December 12, 2014

The Gospel Today

Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe

Luke 1:26-38 

The angel Gabriel was sent from God
to a town of Galilee called Nazareth,
to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph,
of the house of David,
and the virgin’s name was Mary.
And coming to her, he said,
“Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you.”
But she was greatly troubled at what was said
and pondered what sort of greeting this might be.
Then the angel said to her,
“Do not be afraid, Mary,
for you have found favor with God.
Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son,
and you shall name him Jesus.
He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High,
and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father,
and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever,
and of his Kingdom there will be no end.”
But Mary said to the angel,
“How can this be,
since I have no relations with a man?”
And the angel said to her in reply,
“The Holy Spirit will come upon you,
and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.
Therefore the child to be born
will be called holy, the Son of God.
And behold, Elizabeth, your relative,
has also conceived a son in her old age,
and this is the sixth month for her who was called barren;
for nothing will be impossible for God.”
Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord.
May it be done to me according to your word.”
Then the angel departed from her.

Reflection (Sem. Al Pestaño):

Today we celebrate the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe.  On December 9, 1531, the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to an Indian convert named Juan Diego and left with him a picture of herself impressed upon his cloak (cf. Christian Prayer:  The Liturgy of the Hours).  Juan Diego may seem to us men as an ordinary person, but to the eyes of God, he is very special.  God looks on us in a special way different from the way we look at each other.

In today’s Gospel, we see the difference of how God see us and how we see ourselves.  For men, we see Mary as “a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David” (verse 27).  But in the succeeding verse (verse 28), Mary is seen by God as “full of Grace.”    Truly, “God’s way is not our way.”  In the first book of the prophet Samuel (1 Sam 16:7), God said to Samuel that “not as man does God see, because man sees the appearance but the Lord looks into the heart.”  Even Mary looked into herself as the “handmaid of the Lord” yet God looked at her as a special person deserving to be the mother of the Savior of the world, Jesus Christ.  Isn’t this amazing?

As I reflected on this Gospel, there were two things that I realized.  The first was regarding my vocation and the second was about my relationship with others.  Regarding the first, I had asked myself what was in me that God has called me in this vocation.  If only for myself, I would not have entered the seminary because of my unworthiness.

I also have my weaknesses and sinfulness.  I am just an ordinary person, yet God calls me to the priestly vocation.  Do I deserve this?  Certainly not; but God looked at me as His special child.  He has planned this even before I was formed in my mother’s womb.  He even called me to the priesthood despite of my shortcomings.  I am not and cannot be compared with Mary because she had been preserved from any stain of sin from the very beginning; but God is purifying me now in my seminary formation.  There may be fear in me now.  There is still the question, “Why me?” It still lingers in my mind every now and then.  But there is only one that God is asking from me, and this is to trust Him.

The invitation for me today is to trust and obey God, to follow His will for me.  Although I am not really worthy for this calling, God has His own way of making me worthy, I only need to cooperate with the will of God.  St. Paul said in his letter to the Romans that, “all things work for the good of those who love God and He conforms them to the image of His Son (Rom 8:28).  Fear is not necessary, submission to the will God is the one thing needed.  The process of purification may not be easy but I need to cooperate no matter how difficult it is; like Mary, who may not have understood the message given to her by Angel Gabriel, yet she totally submitted herself to God.  There may be a question of why God has chosen me, but God sees not as man.  God looks at me, and at all of us in the heart.

In the context of my, or should I say our, relationship with our brothers and sisters, this Gospel is also a reminder for all of us to be careful of making judgments on other people.  We may pass judgment on people because of how we see them, but we need to be reminded also that God has His own way of looking at us.  God sees all of us as His special children and He always looks at us in the most loving way.  If God has seen them as special, who are we to judge our brothers and sisters?  God’s will for all of us is that we may all be united as one family, but sometimes in passing judgment on others we may cause divisions in the community.

We are all equal in the eyes of God; this means that we are all special in the eyes of God, so we also need to treat others as God treats us.  Let us be loving to one another instead of being judgmental.  Let us love one another the way God loves us. Let us look at each other in the same way that God looks at us.

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